An often irreverent look at some of this week's other news ...
Internet Explorer 9: 2.35 Million Downloads in 24 Hours—Hot or Not?
Shortly after releasing the final version of Internet Explorer (IE) 9 this week, Microsoft announced that its new browser had been downloaded 2.35 million times in the first 24 hours of availability, even adding an Apple-like breakdown of those numbers: "27 downloads every second or roughly 240 downloads every 9 seconds." That sounds great to me. But at least one report said the first-day numbers were a disappointment because they were "substantially less than comparable download performances of Mozilla and Apple." Huh? According to this report, Firefox 3.5 had an estimated 5 million downloads in its first day, while Apple's Safari 4 was downloaded more than 11 million times in its first 3 days. I'm not sure what to say to that, but I will say this: IE 9 will be used by more people than the newest versions of Firefox and Safari in short order. So you can put that in your anti-Microsoft cap and wear it to the dance. (See, I just invented a new phrase too.)
The Curious Case of Internet Explorer 9 and Adobe Flash
But IE 9 isn't all good news, of course. One issue some readers have reported—and now I'm seeing it as well—is that Adobe Flash stops working. And when you hit a Flash-based site and are prompted to install Flash, you can do so but it has no effect. In looking around for a solution to this problem, I was told that the new IE 9 feature called ActiveX Filtering can kill Flash and ... yep, that does the trick. So if you run into this issue and want to play Flash, you might have to simply turn off ActiveX Filtering.
Microsoft Is One of the Most Ethical Companies in the World
According to a recent study by the Ethisphere Institute in New York, Microsoft is one of the most ethical companies on Earth, and it'sthe single most ethical company in the tech industry, (way) ahead of such companies as Apple and Google. Someone should tell the Windows Phone team, then: Almost a week after it lied publicly about my reporting around Windows Phone 7 software updates and the ability of carriers to block those updates, I'm still waiting for an apology. I won't hold my breath.
Windows Phone: The Next Zune?
With Microsoft allegedly killing off its Zune hardware this week (despite half-hearted protestations to the contrary, this actually happened a long time ago), some are starting to wonder whether Windows Phone is the next Zune—that is, a promising and leading-edge platform that dies from a thousand tiny cuts (i.e., no support internally) as well as from the dominant competition (in this case, Android and iPhone). It's a valid question. As with the Zune, I'm a dedicated Windows Phone user. I love the thing. I wonder why more people don't use the devices. I'm curious why people put up with inferior solutions such as iTunes (for iPhone) or whatever random, cobbled-together mess Androiders use. I will say this: Microsoft says it's standing behind Windows Phone, and I believe it. On the other hand, it said the same thing about the Zune. Anyone else remember that?
Apple Seeks to Calm iPad 2 Buying Process
Apple's new iPad 2 is off to a stellar start, with supplies virtually non-existent and customers getting frantic that they'll have to wait months to get a device that bears a curiously strong resemblance to the iPad they already own. So Apple is stepping in to calm things down, asking its retail employees to offer new iPad 2s for sale a day after they arrive at the stores. The issue here is that rushing the devices to the shelves causes huge problems with Apple's inventory system, making it impossible to accurately gauge demand by area and then accurately stock the products. But what I get from this is that, if you're waiting to get an iPad 2, your wait just got longer.
And Where Are All the iPad 2 Competitors?
When the original iPad shipped last year, I complained that it was too expensive and was available in too many versions. So this year, Apple responded to my criticisms by keeping the price the same and dramatically increasing the number of product versions. ("Winning!") Ahem. Anyway, the reason Apple can do this is that no viable iPad competitors have emerged in the past year, and of the handful of wannabes out there, amazingly, none seriously undercut the iPad's pricing. But this could be changing, finally. Starting next week, Motorola will begin selling a Wi-Fi-only version of its 10" Xoom tablet for $599—the same price as the equivalent iPad 2. (Though it should be noted that Apple sells a stripped iPad 2 for "only" $499.) I'm glad to see some movement on pricing, but let's be serious: This thing is never going to seriously compete with the iPad 2. So, we're sort of back to square one here.
Firefox 4 Will Ship on Tuesday, March 22
And I'm already taking bets that Mozilla will miss that date, given its ongoing inability to meet any product milestones for this browser. But assuming all goes well, Mozilla will finally push Firefox 4 out of pre-release mode and into general release—a mere five months after the originally promised ship date, and a little over a week after the release of Microsoft's IE 9.
Scientists May Have Found Atlantis
This has absolutely nothing to do with technology—OK, Google Earth figures in here somewhat—but it's just too cool to pass up. This week, a professor from the University of Hartford and a team of international scientists announced that they have almost certainly found the fabled lost city of Atlantis. And in a curious bit of timeliness, they claim that not only was the city real, but it was in fact wiped out by a tsunami, which explains its sudden disappearance. The scientists say Atlantis' remains can be found just north of Cadiz, in Spain, and they spent the past two years using deep-ground radar and digital mapping to discover and then map the place. So, is it real? As always, the topic remains controversial. But if you enjoy the odd Sasquatch or UFO story, how can you resist? The National Geographic Channel has a special show airing this week about the "discovery" if you want more info.
This Week, on the Windows Weekly Podcast
Leo and I recorded the latest episode of the Windows Weekly on Thursday, so the new episode should be available by the end of the weekend, as always, on the Zune Marketplace and iTunes, and wherever else quality podcasts are found, in both audio and video formats.
But Wait, There's More
My latest book, Windows Phone Secrets, is now available in bookstores everywhere.